Perhaps you are considering taking your kids out of school for a term or a year to travel, or maybe you are already home educating, and would like to continue as you discover the beauty of Australia. Whether it’s for three weeks, three months or three years, there’s no doubt that travel really does broaden the mind. Travelling ensures a constant stream of new experiences, environments and conversations. It allows us to meet a wide variety of people, to visit places we might otherwise never see, and to experience places using multiple senses and learning styles.
It’s common for travelling families to want to incorporate some schoolwork as they travel. Some (particularly those in the upper years of high school) will sign up with Virtual School Victoria (distance ed), others will purchase books or apps, or pack a few resources for English and maths. How you choose to address your child’s education on the road (or sea) is up to you, but be reassured that students who take time out of school to travel often make more progress out of school than they previously did within the system.
Families often try to fit schoolwork into the time when they are on the move, so that when they stop at a new location they can spend as much time as possible experiencing what’s available. Audio books, apps and documentaries can be great for long drives, and these are also great times to play verbal games, or do quizzes. Regular short activities also work well, whether it’s a page of a maths book each morning, or writing a diary/reading a book each evening.
However, travel in itself is an education. This is acknowledged by the VRQA who are happy to grant registration on the basis of a learning plan which is entirely travel based. Many students learn more from an excursion than from weeks covering the same topic in a classroom, so whether you are comparing marine environments as you travel from state to state, visiting historic homesteads, or comparing the size of various Big Things, the learning opportunities are endless. Schoolwork is optional, and many families find that they are so busy conversing, meeting new people and experiencing life that there’s not enough time to fit it in.
Social opportunities are a common concern, as friends and family will be left behind at home. Mobile phones and apps like Zoom have made keeping in touch easier and cheaper, but one common benefit of travelling that is not expected is the closeness that can occur between siblings. Initial squabbles often turn into close bonds as siblings share a small space as well as special experiences. Unless your travels take you to really remote areas, you are also likely to meet other families on the road, and travelling families are usually open and friendly. There are also many connections made with kids and adults from other countries and cultures, and a fabulous way to cover the languages KLA is to learn a few words in the home language of any overseas visitors you meet, as well as in the local indigenous language.
If you have the chance to travel with your children, seize the opportunity. Watch them grow as they are surrounded by hands-on educational experiences, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Victorian legal information
If you are already registered for home education in Victoria and wish to travel, you do not need to inform the VRQA. You do not need to have a physical base in Victoria, but should have an address where mail can be sent, such as a relative’s home.
If you settle in another state (even temporarily) you should change your registration to that of the state you are settled in.
If you are registering for home education, you can base your learning plan on travel. You are not required to take school work with you.
There are several online support and information groups for travelling families (not all are specific to home education), including:
For HEN blog articles related to travel and home education, please click here.